Monday, April 4, 2011

Nova Football Joining the Big East is Good for Everyone

As most of us know, Villanova University was offered a chance to join the Big East conference in football, moving out of the Division 1A class. The athletic offices at the University have been conducting an analysis of whether or not the transition would be beneficial to the school and program. The Board of Directors, faculty, Priests, etc. have all been consulted as well and we likely won't know the decision until the end of this year, possibly even later than that. The move itself likely won't happen until 2012 or 2013. Even so, Villanova's jump to the Big East for football would be the best move for all parties involved.

Although the Big East has put out offers to several schools for an expansion slot, the reality is that 'Nova is clearly their preferred choice. The Cat's have proven to be competitive contenders within the Big East in every athletic field. The Women's Cross Country team has won more national titles than any other school in the country, including the past two years. The Men's Lacrosse team is a power on the rise, losing to national powerhouse Syracuse by just one goal last week. The Men's Basketball team is a name brand that garners recognition and respect throughout the country. The Football team won the Division 1A National Championship in 2009...Villanova athletes have demonstrated over the years that they are consistent winners.

But the desire for Villanova to join the Big East goes much deeper than that. The Philadelphia area TV market is the 4th largest in the nation. One of the benefits of enticing TCU to join the conference is the fact that Dallas- Fort Worth is the 5th largest TV market in the nation (TCU is located in Fort Worth). The Conference stands to gain untold sums of money from a market that is in some ways untapped. By untapped I mean that there is no collegiate football team dominating the Philadelphia channels on Saturdays. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Philly, there was a noticeable lack of a football powerhouse in the vicinity. Many loyalties do lie with Penn State...but Happy Valley is a solid 3 or 4 hours away from the city. Given the strong Irish heritage found in and around the city of Philadelphia, it is entirely reasonable to project that Villanova could transform itself into a Notre Dame or Boston College-like football icon in the Mid Atlantic region. A fairer comparison would probably be BC, given the football tradition at Notre Dame. Boston College dominates the New England college football market and many kids from the area support BC football. Aside from Temple, there are no real football powerhouses in the area--- its time for Villanova to fill the void.

For the University itself, it makes complete sense to make the move. Yes, there will be short-term difficulties in building up the team to be competitive at the D1 level and yes, we need to find a legitimate place to play. But in the long-run, the benefits of the transition far outweigh the costs. With the amenities and education Villanova provides, along with the name recognition, it won't be long before highly-touted D1 recruits start to take interest in the Cat's. The stadium issue will eventually be resolved seeing as there are several options around the city. (BTW, thanks Radnor Township for the awesome zoning laws. Don't act like you wouldn't love to have a large, brand new, state-of-the-art Villanova football stadium within your district.) What the University needs to think about is the ridiculous amounts of revenue that will be generated by this team. West Virginia and Connecticut each brought in around $55 million in revenue from the 2010 football season. Louisville led the conference with $25 million generated from basketball, with the median being around $7 million. The fact is, there is so much more money to be gained from a D1 football team, it seems foolish for the University to not cash in on the opportunity.

In the end, college football is so much more exciting when its played on a big stage. For a school with so much spirit and such an awesome fan base, its a shame for this University to not compete in the Big East for football. Football, for many at Nova, is an afterthought. But if you offer college kids the chance to tailgate, watch their classmates play football (arguably the most entertaining game to watch) against some of the best competition in the nation, you can't go wrong. This deal is too good for everyone involved to pass up; the Wildcats need to be playing our real rivals on the football field sometime in the very near future.

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